Children who speak languages other than English at home and who also have difficulty speaking English23 may face greater challenges progressing in school and in the labor market. Once it is determined that a student speaks another language, school officials must, by law, evaluate the child's facility with English to determine whether the student needs services such as special instruction to improve his or her English, then provide these services if needed.
NOTE: Numbers from the 1995 and 1999 Current Population Survey. (CPS) may reflect changes in the survey because of newly instituted computer-assisted interviewing techniques and/or because of the change in the population controls to the 1990 Census-based estimates, with adjustments. A break is shown in the lines between 1999 and 2000 because data from 1979 to 1999 come from the CPS, while beginning in 2000 the data come from the American Community Survey. (ACS). The questions were the same on the CPS and the ACS questionnaires.
SOURCE: U.S. Census Bureau, October (1992, 1995, and 1999) and November (1979 and 1989) Current Population Surveys, and 2000–2009 American Community Survey.
2 Federal surveys now give respondents the option of reporting more than one race. Therefore, two basic ways of defining a race group are possible. A group such as Black may be defined as those who reported Black and no other race (the race-alone or single-race concept) or as those who reported Black regardless of whether they also reported another race (the race-aloneor- in-combination concept). This indicator shows data using the first approach (race alone). Use of the single-race population does not imply that it is the preferred method of presenting or analyzing data. The U.S. Census Bureau uses a variety of approaches. Data on race and Hispanic origin are collected separately. Persons of Hispanic origin may be of any race.
23 Adult respondents were asked if the children in the household spoke a language other than English at home and how well they could speak English. Categories used for reporting how well children could speak English were "Very well," "Well," "Not well," and "Not at all." All those who were reported to speak English less than "Very well" were considered to have difficulty speaking English based on an evaluation of the English-speaking ability of a sample of children in the 1980s.
24 The percentage of White, non-Hispanic children ages 5–17 who spoke English less than "very well" (1.1 percent) was statistically different from the percentage of Black, non-Hispanic children who did so (1.3 percent).